Playtime Engineering has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the Blipbox – a synthesizer and beatbox designed to be easy-to-use and safe for children as young as 3 years old.
While it’s designed with kids in mind, it also offers MIDI support:
The developers shared an FAQ that addresses some common technical questions about the Blipbox:
Don’t synthesizers usually have keyboards?
The Blipblox has a sequencer that plays hundreds of built-in melodies, so the user can focus on exploring the tone and textures of the sound, not just play individual notes. You can use the MIDI Input port to connect an external keyboard.
Why aren’t the buttons or knobs labeled?
The Blipblox was designed to be inviting and accessible to people of all ages. Those interested in learning more can refer to our in-depth Learning Toolbox Instruction Manual that outlines the Blipblox controls and signal flow for each of the buttons, knobs and levers.
Can I program or load my own sequences into the Blipblox?
The Blipblox comes pre-loaded with hundreds of fun melodies. The MIDI input port allows an external sequencer or keyboard to play the sounds instead of the internal sequencer.
Are samples used to make the sounds?
All sounds in the Blipblox come from synthesized algorithms instead of samples. This allows for an unlimited range of sounds to be explored and is the primary difference between the Blipblox and other music toys.
Does the Blipblox time-sync to other MIDI gear?
Yes. The Blipblox responds to MIDI start, stop and time sync commands.
Can I play the drums via MIDI?
Yes. The synthesizer is played using Channel 1, the drums with Channel 2.
Can I control sound parameters via MIDI?
No, only note on/off/pitch and MIDI sync are supported.
Is the Blipblox in tune? When I play it from a keyboard, are the notes matched to the correct frequency?
Yes. As crazy as some of the sounds can get, they are still frequency matched and in tune. You can incorporate almost any Blipblox sound into a music track.
Where are all the controls for the two envelope generators?
The Amplifier Envelope has only a Release control knob. The Modulation Envelope has only an Attack control knob. The envelopes automatically adjust some parameters based on tempo and other factors to keep them fun and usable.
How do I select the LFO waveform??
The two LFO waveforms are automatically randomized.
How does the Blipblox select modes such as Oscillator Sync, or Pulse Width Modulation, or De-tune? How does it select oscillator waves?
There are 8 Oscillator Modulation Schemes. Each scheme takes two Modulation inputs. Different Modulation schemes automatically assign the Modulation inputs to parameters such as Sync, PWM, Detune, etc. Some modulation inputs use non-traditional sound warping to insure a there is a wide range of sounds to explore. Different waveforms are hard-wired into the different Oscillator Schemes.
How can this work like a real synthesizer with so few buttons?
There are several special modes accessed by pressing multiple combinations of buttons. These include turning off the sequencer, changing the LED mode and editing drum sounds. The manual describes these in detail.
How do the control signals work?
There 3 modulation sources: LFO1, LFO2 and Modulation Envelope. Any 3 of these can be routed to Oscillator Modulation 1, Oscillator Modulation 2, and Low Pass Filter Modulation. This forms a 3×3 modulation matrix. There is also the Amplifier Envelope dedicated to controlling the release time of each note.
Pricing and Availability
The Blipbox is available for pre-order to project backers starting at US $139.